The Internet has ushered huge changes in the marketing world by combining many types of business models such as direct sales, affiliate marketing, product creation and marketing online. It is responsible for making the people all over the world benefit from different types of media.
Understanding internet marketing
Internet marketing has provisions for interactive learning as well as instant responses to queries. This makes internet marketing unique. Internet marketing not only comprises of internet, e-mail, and wireless media but also management of digital customer data and electronic customer relationship management (ECRM) systems. The creative and technical aspects of the Internet such as design, development, advertising, and sales are tied together by Internet marketing.
Blogs play an important role in marketing strategies
Blogs form an integral part of internet marketing today. While it was once only a domain for experts in the technique, the blogging phenomenon has transformed key elements of the society such as politics and journalism. It has come at par with other platforms for personal commutation such as e-mails and social networking. There has been an exponential rise in the number of blogs lately. Technorati, a blog engine giant in January 2009 tracked 133 million blogs, up from eight million blogs in 2005 (futurebuzz.com, technorati.com). There has been a similar trend in the number of blog readers. Blogging has not only become a buzz marketing tool or a tool for socializing, but also seen as an income generator. 28% of all bloggers engage in blogging as a source of income (futurebuzz report, December 2009 report).
The futurebuzz report published on the blogging phenomenon in July 2009 stated that 77% of all active internet users have read blogs. ‘Blogging Brands’ is a separate category in the blogging platform, consisting of corporate bloggers, consumers of brands who provide positive as well as negative feedback about the brands, or even about their companies. Almost 71% of them reported that there has been an exponential rise in their brand visibility and sales due to blogging.
Blogging had become a mainstream web activity as early as 2004 (myjournal.com), with Merriam Webster dictionary rating ‘Blog’ as the Word of the Year. They are a creative and diverse web phenomenon capable of challenging the world’s media; increasingly a media release opportunity as well as a platform for commerce and industry.
The Fortune Magazine in January 2005 recognized it as the “Topmost Tech Trend to Watch out for”, stating that they are slowly changing the processes of operations in areas of marketing, PR and advertising (Kirkpatrick and Roth, 2005). Moreover, it was named the “Breakthrough Idea” in 2005 by the Harvard Business Review, which also stated that blogs are also extremely controversial, unlike other traditional media (Sawhney, 2005). In the same year, The Economist suggested that blogging might soon result in the destruction of traditional PR and marketing channels. Similarly, Postman (2009) proclaims that a blog can “supplement, or replace, some of the standard corporate communications vehicles”. Bly (2007) called corporate blogging a “grass-roots phenomenon” that tries to restore connection between companies and consumers. The establishment of the fact that it had created a revolution in business mainstream came with Business Week article published in May 2005 stating that ‘blogs have the power to change a business’.
Rise of blog marketing
Since the start of the 21st century, there has been a phenomenal rise in the number of corporate blogs around the world. On 17th August 2010, e-marketer news reported that 34% of businesses in USA are currently using them to promote their products or services (emarketer.com). The number is all set to rise to 43% by 2012. Microsoft is known to be one of the biggest companies using corporate blogs. Scobleizer, one of their most controversial blogs, generated such high volumes of readers that “attempts to shut down for its controversial nature were immediately abandoned” (indiaprblog article, April 27, 2007). In 2006, General Motors invested an estimated USD 225,675 in their corporate blog “FastLane”, and generated consumer insight worth USD 410,470- an impressive 67% return on investment. Prior to that, their blog had generated a return on investment of 99% in 2005. Other examples of phenomenal corporate blogs are IBM’s DeveloperWorks, Macromedia, Sun Systems and SouthWest Airlines. All these blogs are examples of the new platform for promotional advertising, which has reportedly increased their brand visibility and also generated revenues.
In India too, corporate blogging is steadily on the rise. In July 2007, The Times Online UK announced “Digital Inspiration”, a blog that generates over 1 million hits a day the “Best Business Blog in India” (labnol.org, July 27, 2007 Article). Other prominent Indian firms such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, etc. have also reported favorable response to their corporate blogs. India has also seen the establishment of “Social Media Management” firms, a new PR and marketing breed to provide professional services to companies who need help in blogging. Some of these companies are the New Delhi-based WATConsult and BlogWorks.
The growing popularity of blog marketing as a tool for businesses has come in the wake of growing realization that consumers are becoming increasingly cynical and markets, fragmented. Traditional marketing channels are no longer relevant in this context. While the 90’s saw the introduction of new marketing tools such as buzz marketing, relationship marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, opt-in marketing and viral marketing, the trend is slowly changing towards the better for businesses and companies. Blog marketing has the potential to satisfy the requirements of new marketing strategies. Since it is a platform that enables personal, face-to-face interactions with consumers, companies are able to project a more human face. It has been widely acclaimed by market research and PR professionals that blogs will be one of the most vital marketing tools in years to come (O’Malley, 2005).
- Kirkpatrick, D. and Roth, D. (2005) Why there’s no escaping the blog. Fortune. Vol. 151, Iss. 1, p. 64.
- Sawhney, M. (2005) Blog-trolling in the bitstream. Harvard Business Review. Vol. 83, No. 2, p. 39.
- Postman, J. (2009): “SocialCorp: social media goes corporate”. Published by New Riders Publications (California). pp 60.
- Bly, R.W. (2007): “Blog, schmog!: the truth about what blogs can (and can’t) do for your business”. Published by Thomas Nelson (Tennessee). pp 141.
- O’Malley, G. (2005) Will blogs become the ultimate marketing tool? Online Media Daily, March 3. Available from: http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art _aid=27815 Last accessed on 27 August 2010.